Archives for posts with tag: indiana

We moved into our new place in Madison on Saturday!

After saying goodbye to my knitting friends in Bloomington, we packed up our apartment… here are some photos of the goodbye knit night, at our regular venue (the Pour House) and a nearby bar called the Root Cellar:

Elli + Korknisse:

Kalani + Korknisse:

The gang at the Pour House… from left to right, back to front: Sara, Kalani, Norma, Katie, me, Nicole, Elli

Knitting with raspberry beer at the Root Cellar, which is located in the basement of a fancy restaurant named FARM:

Elli and the wall of bedpans at FARM. Apparently these bedpans really freaked out her husband, who didn’t realize that they were meant to designate the area where the bathrooms were located and were not just there on a wall in a restaurant for the hell of it. So I had to take a picture of her with the scary decor:

In the first half of the move (from Bloomington to Rahul’s aunt and uncle’s house in Illinois), our car was packed to the brim:

I had to huddle cross-legged on the blanket nest in the passenger seat, clutching a bag on my lap, for the entire 4-hour drive–and this was already after getting rid of a ton of stuff that we just had to buy again as soon as we got here (like paper towels, a microwave, a coffee pot, etc.) sending a van-and-U-Haul trailer load with Rahul’s parents, and leaving a van-load of stuff with a friend in Bloomington for later pickup. We made kind of a strategy error by packing the less important stuff with Rahul’s parents in their van and leaving just the most important stuff to take with us in our car. They left, and we were wrapping up and packing when we realized we wouldn’t have enough room–but we really needed to keep everything else we had with us. Hence the clown car full of blankets, clothing, computers, and guitars.

We stayed in rural Illinois for a week and had some long and pleasant bike rides through cornfields and tiny towns–the longest ride we did was about 30 miles and I had a great time because we rode on a nice, flat dedicated bike path instead of along the side of the road with cars. Here are a few of the sights along the way…

The two stores in downtown Owaneco, Illinois (a meat store and a wine shop):

A log cabin in Pana:

A pause along the bike path:

The second half of the move went smoothly. We were able to redistribute our stuff into the van when we met up with his parents in Illinois, so we could actually see out of the back when we drove the next 5 hours of the trip. We were able to get our stuff moved in within a few hours on Saturday morning, and had some nice Thai food and unpacked for the rest of the day. We only put things together backwards a few times while assembling furniture. A success overall.

So the new place is cute, though we have no driveway or garage–something we didn’t realize would be a problem initially, since we knew we could get a residential parking permit, but we found out today that Madison requires you to change your residential street parking spot every other day, or every single day in the winter, between November and March (park on the even-numbered sides on even-numbered days, and vice versa). Since neither of us is going to be driving on a regular basis, this is a colossal pain in the butt. Also, I won’t have internet access at home until Friday, which feels odd and crippling in a place where we don’t know our way around yet–all this calling 411 and consulting paper maps feels very strange and archaic now.

But these things aside, our new place is cozy and cute (read: kind of small!), and in a great neighborhood, quiet and residential, full of huge old trees, close to Trader Joe’s and a record store and a branch of the public library. After a hellish afternoon shopping at big box stores yesterday, we took a nice long bike ride in the evening around the park (we spotted bison at the zoo through the fence), along the shores of Lake Wingra, and through the beautiful Arboretum. Today I’ve been sucking down lattes at a local cafe and working, and I stopped in at the record store at lunchtime and bought this album on an impulse. This band totally cracks me up.

In the meantime, I’ll continue slowly working through my backlog of blog fodder. Next up, my most recent finished object (I have been less than prolific in the past month or so).

Pattern: Branching Out, by Susan Lawrence, from Knitty’s Spring 2005 issue

Size made: n/a

Finished dimensions: long and scarfy? I thought I’d written this down, but I can’t seem to find it. I’d guess about 60 inches long by 7 inches wide.

Yarn used: Farmhouse Fibers/Yellowwood Llamas Super Silky 100% Llama in Lily, 1 skein (200 yards, sport weight yarn)

Needles used: US size 6/4.0 Addi Turbos

Date started: July 10, 2008

Date finished: July 16, 2008

Mods: None

Notes: As I explained in my post about the visit to the llama farm, my friend Molly and I have a deep affection for llamas dating back to junior high school days or thereabouts. We wrote a parody of a romance novel called The Mark of the Llama… I remember very little about the plot except that it featured a protagonist named Coriander who floated about misty manor lawns in a diaphanous white gown, and a villain who, at one point, threateningly pulled a shotgun from his sock and waved it around.

Anyway, Molly has a wool allergy and always complains about being unable to find nice coats or dress pants for a reasonable price–they’re either cheap polyester or incredibly expensive cashmere. I’ve been encouraging her to learn to knit, and have been telling her all about No Sheep for You ever since it came out–it hasn’t quite taken yet, but she’s definitely intrigued.

More so, I think, after I gave her this scarf. I originally went to the llama farm with the intention of getting some 100% llama yarn to make a woolly, llama-y present for Molly. I could have gone with alpaca or cashmere or silk, but llama just seemed like the perfect fiber for a present for her. So I made this while I was in California, and presented it to her.

She was pleased and said it didn’t feel like burning. Her mom laughed and explained that this was what wool felt like to the rest of the world.

Anyway, now that we’ve moved, I hope I’ll be able to settle in quickly, find some new friends here, and get some more mittens made before the bitter Wisconsin winter comes. The Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival is coming up soon and I’m hoping I can make it… Lord knows I don’t need any more yarn or fiber right now, but Briar Rose and Handspun by Stefania will both be there for the ogling, and of course lots of cute sheep and other critters. Maybe even llamas.

Warning: this post is going to be totally uninteresting to anyone except present or former Bloomingtonians… oh, or if you want to see pictures of me wearing my finished Rusted Root and being totally sweaty and gross from running around town.

A while ago, I blogged about the Bloomington scavenger hunt I did with my friends Steve and Jeanne, the same day as World Wide Knit in Public Day. (We won the scavenger hunt, yay!) Well, Steve recovered most of the pictures he had accidentally deleted and I finally got the pictures up on my Flickr. Here’s a list of (slightly paraphrased) questions from the scavenger hunt, and explanations of any obscure/tricky ones (listed in white, in case you want to play along and guess for yourself–to see the answers, highlight the text). Click through the links to see the photos we used to score points. We had to stick together–no splitting up–and a team member had to be in each photo. Using the internet to find answers was allowed, but we didn’t have an iPhone so we ended up just grabbing random people on the street and asking them questions. Or calling them with desperate, weird chemistry questions (thanks, Leigh!) Too bad we didn’t have an iPhone, since Bloomingpedia would have made a great resource for figuring all this out.

The back door of the Upstairs Bar (this is right on Kirkwood, across from the Jungle Room)

Get a glass of water from someone over the age of 35 (taken outside Nick’s English Hut on Kirkwood)

You and six of your best buds (bonus points if they’re all empty; extra bonus points for bringing the beers to the judges, which we did after a bit of debate about whether it was worth hauling the six-pack around town). Taken in the Big Red across from the Copper Cup.

Beefeaters at Nick’s (This is a photo of bartenders at Nick’s English Hut, holding up a bottle of Beefeaters gin. The one we actually used for scoring had Steve in it, but it got deleted.)

Which way to the gun show?

Bonus points for having a team name, extra bonus points for being in a team uniform by the end of the night (we put sticks in our hair and called ourselves Team Brown and Sticky, after my favorite joke: Q: What’s brown and sticky? A: A stick!)

Swap shirts with a stranger. Bonus points if you swap shirts with someone of the opposite sex. Extra bonus points for a permanent swap. (I was not willing to swap my Rusted Root permanently or have a guy put it on and stretch it out, same with Jeanne and her NORML T-shirt, so Steve had to be the intrepid swapper.)

An IU Valentine’s day tradition at the Rosewell House (sic). Bonus points for something creative. (The Rose Well house is that pretty round gazebo thing in the meadow near the statue of Herman B. Wells. This is not actually a V-day tradition, and it’s spelled the Rose Well House; the IU website says “Tradition holds that a female student is not officially a co-ed until she has been kissed beneath its dome at midnight.” As for the kink, we went for the good ol’ threesome.)

The NYSE stock ticker (Steve just got his MBA, and Jeanne and I are “Kelley partners,” i.e. significant others of business school students, so of course we all knew this was in the atrium of the Kelley School of Business at 10th and Fee!)

The old entrance to the Little 500 stadium (now the Arboretum–just across from the business school)

That fucking light pillar (right outside the IU Art Museum, of course)

A freshman with a backpack, bonus points if they’re with their parents (we found a fresh-faced youngster in a car on campus with her parents, outside Woodburn. Check out the dad’s face.)

IU’s United Colors of Benton (Thomas Hart Benton painted a series of murals about Indiana history in 1933, and it includes an image of a KKK rally, leading people to protest and demand its removal. The mural can be found in Woodburn Hall, and I’m told a special lecturer has to come in and explain its historical context every semester to the students who have classes in this hall. More information here.)

A proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem (we stopped in a computer lab to take this photo)

A union member card (we used Jeanne’s credit union membership card)

The bridge that Roosevelt built (I knew this one right away because I’d taken the photos of The Water is Wide there! It’s behind the little chapel beside the Union. If you’re wondering what we’re doing in this photo, we’re pretending to build it.)

A Little 500 bike; and bonus points for photos of the judges (this latter clue was printed in tiny gray type and we didn’t even see it. Fortunately, we saw one of the judges riding around campus on her Little 500 bike and took a picture of her, after which she told us we’d get bonus points for that. Apparently there’s also a Little 500 bike hanging from the ceiling upstairs at Nick’s.)
In the Jordan River (this is the little stream running through Dunn Meadow)

Burritos as big as your head; also, the old Den (it’s gone now, but there was a burrito place upstairs from what was the old Den and was Trulli Flatbreads and is now Finch’s Brasserie–visible across the street)

Two men in a sex position

A full moon (it was 3 days before full moon when the scavenger hunt took place. The judge was relieved when she saw this photo, of the label of a hippie candle at Bloomingfoods. She said she had never seen so many bare, hairy, ugly man-butts in her life, because most people had taken a picture of someone mooning. We tried to get random people on the street to help us out with this, but nobody obliged. Even a crazy punk guy lying on a bench on the street seemed embarrassed and said his butt was too hairy to show us.)

Lloyd Dobler’s iconic moment (Lloyd Dobler sounded so familiar, but we couldn’t pin down who he was. I knew he must be from some movie, so we ran into Plan 9 Film Emporium and asked the clerk. Turns out he’s John Cusack’s character from Say Anything, so instead of finding a boom box for the photo, we took a recursive sort of photo of Steve doing the pose holding the DVD case for Say Anything, depicting Lloyd Dobler holding up a boom box.)

The porch of the old Uncle E’s (Uncle Elizabeth’s was a gay bar that used to be at Morton and 9th. I really liked it–too bad it’s gone now. It had a patio with Christmas lights and outside tables, and fun music on the jukebox, and a laid-back vibe)

We lost photos for some of the clues we got…

– A sample resume from Career Services

– Your own resume

– Bring us the LD50 of 1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6(3H,7H)-dione (I left the chemgrrl a message asking for help and she called back to explain what LD50 means. We ran into the Chemistry Building to try and find someone to help us out on what 1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6(3H,7H)-dione was, but ended up getting the answer from another team. To get partial points for this clue, we took a picture of me in front of Starbucks… the actual LD50 is pretty high, corresponding to about 96 pounds of milk chocolate or 173 cups of coffee.)

– Hoagy Carmichael’s graduation hangout (now BuffaLouie’s/the Gables on Indiana and Kirkwood)

Here are some of the clues we didn’t get:

– A photo from the archive where Stacy worked last summer (we were fuming about how unfair this question was for a while, but it turned out the judges didn’t expect anyone to show up to the scavenger hunt except their friends, hence in-jokes like this)

– The top floor of the main library

– A Greek goddess, bonus if she’s holding her shoes (all the sorority girls were out of town, it seemed!)

– The old Pit Stop (the current location of Player’s Pub, but we didn’t have time to go down there)

– Items from the U of C scavenger hunt

– Bonus points for money for the judges–one point per dollar

– A photo in a dorm bathroom; bonus points if you’re showering, minus points if you’re using the toilet

– The second floor of McCalla (the art school at 9th and Indiana)

– A Roly Poly sub

– A picture containing both the ghetto Kroger and the Square in a single photo (the ghetto Kroger is the one across from Seminary Square; we went up some fire escapes trying to get this shot, but apparently you need to go up onto the roof of a parking structure to get this photo)

You do this to forget my name while you collect your fame (wear your sunglasses at night! I was kicking myself for not getting this, I knew it sounded so familiar)

About two years ago, not long after moving to Bloomington, I was googling pure llama yarn with the intention of making a scarf for my friend Molly. We’ve known each other since I was five, and long ago, we wrote a parody of a romance novel together called “The Mark of the Llama.” Molly happens to be allergic to wool, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to sample some exotic fiber and also make her a nice little in-joke of a present.

This was before Mirasol Miski and Elsebeth Lavold Baby Llama came on the scene, so it was a little hard to find something suitable–most of what I was finding was wool-llama blends, like Cascade Pastaza. One of the first hits that came up when I searched for “100% llama yarn” was Yellow Wood Llamas (or maybe it was their web store, Farmhouse Fibers), run by Fred and Laura Keller. When I looked at their site, I noticed that they were located in Martinsville, just north of Bloomington, so I inquired about the possibility of coming up to their farm to pick up my purchase (and meet the llamas) rather than having it shipped down. Laura and I emailed back and forth for a while but never managed to get the dates worked out, and the idea fell by the wayside.

Well, recently, since Rahul finished his master’s, it dawned on me that Molly was probably finishing her graduate degree as well, so I’d better get cracking on that present for her. I contacted Laura again and we finally set up a date for llama-viewing.

Thus it was that last Friday, Kalani, Elli, and I spent a gorgeous summer evening driving up to Martinsville to hang out with a pack of large furry animals. I loved the visit so much, I think my new life plan involves owning a llama farm at some point. They have so much personality and charm, I love their gigantic golf-ball eyes and long eyelashes, and their fur is soft and silky as can be.

We went into the backyard, past their pond bordered with honeysuckle and yucca plants, and home to fish, snapping turtles, and pesky muskrats, and as we started up a hill towards the pasture, a little herd of llamas ran up to the fence to see what we were doing. (There are dozens more of them, but the males almost all live in on a separate plot of land across the road.) I thought that might be it–interaction across the fence–but no, they took us through the barn and into the midst of many friendly and curious llamas. Cooper (or perhaps his name was Hopper?), a seven-month-old male, was especially friendly and spent so much time breathing into our faces and giving us kisses and nibbles that Laura took him away and put a muzzle on him so we would have some breathing room. Here he is, getting in Kalani’s personal space:

Michele is their ambassador llama, an incredibly good-natured and friendly creature. We spent a lot of time giving her back scratches and cuddles. She was very fond of Elli.

This enclosure was home to all the outcast camelids. In the back we have Phantom, aka Paco, the lone alpaca in the herd. In the front, Lewis, the spunkiest, toughest little llama ever. This guy has had a very hard life–born blind, he later broke his leg very badly, had it set with pins and plates to hold it in place–and then the leg got infected, so he spent a lot of time at the OSU veterinary hospital being patched up and tended. You can read more of his saga on the Yellow Wood blog.

On this side of the barnyard was also a three-legged llama–I forgot his name, but he got tangled up trying to jump a fence when he was a baby, and injured his leg so badly it had to be amputated.

He seems pretty good-natured about it now, though.

Here are more gratuitous llama photos (and more here):

And if you click on the picture of Paco below, you’ll get to see a video of an adorable inter-species greeting:

So we spent a good long time showering attention on the llamas and asking all kinds of questions, then we stopped in the barn where we saw a pregnant barn kitty:

and Kalani got to feed a llama named Captain Curry, and then we went into the house, where we were confronted with a beautiful room full of yarn and fiber. I didn’t think to take a photo of the room-o-fiber, but you can see me wallowing in yarn in Kalani’s post.

Here’s what I got:
A 1.4 oz. drum-carded batt of silky, glossy, jet-black fiber from a llama named Kona (this picture came out much too brown):

4 oz. of roving from our buddy Michele:

Super Silky sportweight in Plum, a delicate rose-pink semi-solid:

Super Silky sportweight in Lily, a beautiful turquoise/teal. This is destined to become a lacy scarf for Molly, probably Branching Out:

A skein of naturally colored dark brown sportweight shot through with green and orange angelina sparkles:

All of it is silky soft and beautiful, and I can’t wait to work with it. If you’re interested in buying some yourself, you can do it through the Farmhouse Fibers website. Of the yarns I didn’t end up buying, the Phantom alpaca-silk blend (made from Paco’s fur!) was especially tempting, as was the Sassafras worsted weight.

Fred and Laura’s business is primarily online, not brick-and-mortar, so I really appreciated their taking the time out to host us crazy, obsessed knitters for a few hours on a Friday night. It was really a wonderful field trip, well worth the 40-minute drive, and the handspun yarn from Michele’s coat will be one of the best fibery souvenirs of Southern Indiana I could possibly take with me when I move.

Graduation came and went; the keynote speaker was Steve Bellamy, we met various parents and had a buffet lunch, and it was all strangely anticlimactic.

We spent the weekend at parties and lakeside picnics and dumpster diving–that last a particularly depressing lesson in the American Way, as we stared into a dumpster outside a frat house full of lovely solid wood furniture, smashed into pieces and wasted just for the hell of it. Rahul got some scrap wood for arts and crafts projects, and I salvaged a large jug of laundry detergent and almost an entire case of Cup O’ Noodles, the cardboard sleeves damp from the rain or other unspecified dumpster grossness, but the noodles still sealed tight and clean in their styrofoam cups and plastic wrap.

I got a bit of sewing done–no pictures yet, but I do have a lovely new top made of a Japanese bunny print cotton, with little pearly buttons on the yoke, and 4 yards of fabric from the new quilt store in town, Shiisa Quilts. The store is small but welcoming, with a wide selection of pretty, pretty fabrics. Amy Butler, Kaffe Fassett, various other bright, super-modern prints that made Rahul cringe (he strongly prefers the subtle 1800’s-style florals and calicos).

They have a whole section of really nice clearance fabrics, all $4 a yard–I have 2 yards of a Martha Negley Rowan/Westminster print, burgundy striped with tree trunks, and 2 yards of an eggplant and white Japanese print of dragonflies. Both were intended for skirts, but I saw this tutorial for a smocked dress and just might try it. There’s this one, too, using elastic thread on the bobbin. I am not sure this will be a particularly flattering look on me, but it seems like a nice, easy way to make a comfy summer sundress.

On the same theme, here are some photos of the quilt exhibit I went to recently at the Monroe County History Museum. The theme was the juxtaposition of stained glass and quilting (stained glass quilts and cathedral window quilts, specifically).

Stained glass is apparently commonly taught in high school art classes in Southern Indiana. Some of these windows were made by high school kids.

This one is a historic window taken from a farmhouse. I like the simplicity of this piece, the fact that the curators felt that simple rectangular panes of faintly colored glass were worthy of display in a museum alongside saturated, rococo glass pictures of birds and flowers.

The first category of quilts in the display was stained glass quilts, which are basically applique based on stained glass window designs, and finished with black binding around the edges to simulate the leading in stained glass windows.

The second category was cathedral window quilts, which I wasn’t familiar with before. They’re not made like traditional quilts, with a backing, batt, quilting through the layers, and binding around the edges. Instead, they’re hand-sewn, square by square, and due to the way they’re assembled, they’re lightweight, with a naturally presentable wrong side that does not need to be covered with a backing. The background is traditionally made from multiple muslin squares that form a frame for bright little scraps of calico. Most of the quilts in the exhibit fell into this category, and I loved the way they looked.

This photo shows a cathedral window square in progress, and explains the process.

Some quilts had squared-off edges, and others left one side of the squares open to form a pointed edge.

More photos of quilts (mostly blurry) can be found in this Flickr set, in addition to buttons, pewter Vikings, and vintage cars, all of which will be blogged later.

In knitting news, I caved into the allure of summer knitting and have cast on for Rusted Root in bright red Cotlin as my new mindless knitting project. The pattern was a gift, a random act of kindness from the fabulous knottygnome, and the yarn was from a swap for some denim yarn with the fabulous chemgrrl. I’m about halfway through the raglan now, and the fabric is looking kind of floppy and uneven, but I’m hoping that a nice wash and block will sort everything out.

Last but not least, do you live in Indiana? Have you voted? The deadline is 6 PM today!

So we went to Tales of Hoffmann at the IU Opera Friday night, and sadly, it was not a resounding success. I looked up halfway through the first act, and Rahul and our friend Trevor were both fast asleep, not having been captivated by the singing, flying glow-in-the-dark wine and beer bottles, the song about a crippled dwarf, the manufacturer of magical eyes (yet another Blade Runner-ish element in this opera), or the tale of doomed man-robot love. Trevor left after the second act, and Rahul complained bitterly that I was making him stay for the entire opera. On the plus side, I enjoyed it, and I got to wear my Swallowtail Shawl, which I knit sometime last year and haven’t ever gotten a chance to wear since then. It’s Handmaiden Sea Silk in “Forest,” one skein, and is fastened with a beautiful Perl Grey shawl pin from Robynn. Afterwards, we went to a couple of local bars (Bear’s Place and the Root Cellar at FARM) to meet up with friends.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I met up with Kalani, Nicole, Leigh, and Norma at the Sample Gates, and we drove about an hour northwest, for a field trip to The Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN. It was so much fun!

We saw a sign for Live Nude Bait on the way. (also gold panning and cigarettes!)

The weather was somewhat cold (around 40 degrees) and rainy, but thankfully a lot of the fair was indoors, and all of it was at least under a roof of some kind.

We saw some sheep being sheared!

One of the more experienced shearers was teaching a woman how to shear sheep, grabbing a sheep and flipping it over onto its back in one deft motion, like a judo master.

sheep rush

He righted it again and when it was his student’s turn, the sheep did not want to be turned over. It dug in its heels and resisted.

resisting sheep

Mostly, though, once the sheep were upended, they lay there quietly as the electric clippers buzzed.

Inside the fair, there were piles and piles of raw fleeces and rovings all over, and skeins of hand-dyed yarns dangling from hooks or piled in bins.

We saw fluffy angora bunnies:

We made friends with alpacas and llamas:

Doesn’t this one look like it’s on the red carpet at an awards show?

I’m actually sort of afraid to take pictures of llamas, particularly flash photos. They always stare at me intensely and put back their ears, and I’m afraid they’re going to spit at any minute.

We saw this antique New England braiding machine (from the 1800s, but I forget exactly when–1816, maybe?) whirring around. On a related topic, apparently there’s going to be a conference for owners of antique sock knitting machines, this June, in Nashville, IN. I see people using these around town every so often, at fiber arts events or in the yarn shop. They seem like fun.

We saw Kalani’s Shibuiknits patterns for sale at one booth, and thought she should surreptitiously autograph them and put them back on the rack. Here’s the famous designer herself, posing with her patterns!

I saw this sort of creepy-looking needle-felted creature–not sure if it’s a bear or a dog. The sign says: “Hello, My name is Secret. I’m named Secret because I have a secret. It is up to you to figure out what it is. You may have to pick me up to find out. Good luck!”

When you pick it up, the secret is that there is a smaller needle-felted creature embedded in Secret’s ass.

We ran into Elli, from our knitting group, and Wendie, who lives up in Indy. I was looking at a sign on a table and a woman there said “Excuse me, are you Huan-Hua?” Startled, I said yes, and she introduced herself as Holly, one of my test knitters for the Botany Baby Sweater! I saw Suzanne, who runs one of the yarn shops in town, and Diane, another spinner and knitter from Bloomington, and met an indie dyer I’d seen posting on Ravelry.

Here’s a group picture we took outside:

From left to right: Nicole, me, Kalani, Leigh, Norma, and Elli. Leigh is clutching a large ball of roving. She bought two balls of roving. The funny thing about that is that she doesn’t spin. (Yet.)

Here’s an equally important group purchase picture–the trunk of Nicole’s car, packed full of our purchases for the day.

Here’s what I ended up buying:

A skein of golden-orange Creatively Dyed Yarn, fingering weight. You can get her yarns at the Loopy Ewe, too. The label says it’s color number Gras #102, 100% superwash merino wool, approximately 500 yards. It’s a four-ply, low-twist yarn and will probably become lace of some kind. However, I’m not sure if it’s correctly labeled–it really doesn’t look like superwash merino to me, as it has a bit of a halo and shine that suggests alpaca or mohair. It also gave Leigh instant pricklies when she held it against her neck, suggesting it’s probably one of those fibers, not just wool. Or it might be a longwool sheep–I think she said it was “Wensleydale merino”–Wensleydale and Merino are two different breeds of sheep, as far as I know, but if it’s pure Wensleydale or a blend, that would explain the shine (it’s a luster longwool breed) and texture.

I got 4 oz. each of some naturally dyed rovings from Handspun by Stefania. I got stuck in this stall for probably half an hour, full of indecision–should I get indigo-dyed Jacob? Cochineal-dyed handspun? A handspun mitten kit containing fluffy white Great Pyrenees dog fur? I thought their prices were really good for handspun–$35 for a handspun mitten kit.

I finally settled on Corriedale dyed in lac (the bug that gave lacquer and shellac their names)–the base wool is a mixture of gray, black, and white, which is what gives the roving that range of dark to light purples:

and also a Corriedale-silk blend dyed in cochineal, madder, and Osage:

But my prize find was 2 oz. of buffalo down for $5 an ounce! I saw it elsewhere at the fair for $18 an ounce, and even that was apparently a bargain, since they’re selling it online for about $25$40 an ounce. I haven’t seen a lot of guard hairs in it, though there is a pretty good amount of wood and burrs. It’s from Jehovah Jireh Farm. I was also tempted by some gorgeous, autumnal-colored roving, a sample of which you can see on the right in the first picture, $12 for 8 oz. of a 50-50 wool-alpaca blend, if I remember right. But I stupidly repacked my bag before leaving and left my checkbook at home, and only had $25 in cash, so I was prevented from buying from a lot of the vendors, including this one–the buffalo plus alpaca-wool would have decimated my cash supplies, so I stuck to just the buffalo in the end.

Thing is, I hadn’t touched my wheel in months, so I felt really guilty about buying new roving and I was determined to turn at least some of my fiber into yarn before the day was out. And I did it! I must be the world’s slowest spinner–it took me about 2 hours to spin one ounce of buffalo fiber. It wasn’t the easiest fiber to spin, because it pulls apart into fluff really easily when you try to draft it, so before I got the hang of it, I was breaking it about every 30 seconds. It’s still awfully uneven, but I’m hoping it will improve once it’s plied.

But here are the fruits of my labor:

A very high-twist single in order to keep the fiber together, as fine as I could get it without breaking the fiber as I spun (not that fine, really, probably a little lighter than fingering weight), to be plied and made into who knows what at the end. I hope it fluffs up at the end, when it’s plied and set–I have a tendency to overspin and produce kind of ropy yarn. I’ll probably have some tiny amount of yarn at the end, 25 yards or something, but hey. It will be handspun buffalo down yarn!

I also went home with a major yarn crush on Briar Rose Fibers, but was so overwhelmed with the beautiful selection that I ended up not buying anything. Thankfully, they also sell their yarns online and go to a lot of different fiber fairs around the Midwest, so it wasn’t my last chance–I can think of an actual project to make and buy an appropriate yarn and amount based on that, instead of wildly snatching up everything from their entire booth like I had wanted to.

I also fell in love with Sea Silk in Peridot, a color I’d seen pictures of online and suspected I would like. I did. A lot. I’m not sure sea green and silver are great colors for me, but who cares? SO PRETTY. Again, though, it’s available online, so I can wait.

Before I forget, too, I took some experimental videos with my digital camera at the event. Flickr just started offering free video hosting, so here are the videos! I don’t think I can embed them, since I’m using free hosting on WordPress, so you’ll have to click through. Sheep shearing, and sheep waiting to be sheared. Turn up the sound–the main reason I took these was to capture the hilarious bleats and yells from the sheep waiting to be sheared.

I’ve been laid out flat by the flu for the last half a week or so, with the result that I ended up missing nearly all the things I had been looking forward to this weekend… knitting night (I was going to wear the beard hat!), working at the business school, drinks and fresh-baked cookies with friends, the farmer’s market, dinner at the new Ethiopian restaurant with a friend I haven’t seen in months, a Prince party (does my sunflower beret count as raspberry-colored?), and an ice cream-themed birthday party. No, instead, I spent my whole damn weekend lying in bed, all achy and coughing and feverish. I’m still not feeling well, but at least the hacking cough is nearly gone.

The weekend did have a few upsides.

I got to watch parts of various movies–I got bored of Flicka, and my DVD player refused to cooperate with more than 15 minutes of Winged Migration, but I managed to make it through Cat Ballou, and that was fun. I saw the Oscars. I liked the part about the Batsuit.  Helen Mirren looked stunning, just like last year. And I’ve sort of met Glen Hansard (the guy who won the Oscar for Best Song). He’s a friend of a friend, so I made it into his company after a concert–but if I remember correctly, there was just about a minute of quick chatter between the two of them before he had to dash off somewhere, and I never actually got introduced. In any case, it was definitely interesting seeing someone I know (if not directly, at least within a degree) win an Oscar on TV.

I was determined to make it out to the new yarn shop, In a Yarn Basket. Bloomington Ravelers have been waiting with bated breath and much discussion for it to open for months, since I spotted the Under Construction sign while dropping off a package at UPS in the same strip mall. So perhaps ill-advisedly (since this short trip wiped me out for the rest of the evening) after I dropped Rahul off at his band practice on Saturday, I decided to go down to the yarn shop.

I looked through the window. People were inside, peacefully browsing. I tried to open the door–and it was locked. I looked at my watch: 3:30. I rattled the door again. The woman came and opened it and said “We’re closed. We close at 4 on Saturdays.”

“But it’s only 3:30.” I showed her my watch.

She looked up at the wall. “It’s 4:20.”

My watch had stopped and in my feverish, cough syrup-addled state, I had no idea!

I looked in anguish at the people inside and she took pity on me and said I could come in if I didn’t take long. True to my word, I took a quick walk around the store. I took note of the price of Cascade 220 as a benchmark ($6.60, and they have tons of colors, and superwash). Then I picked up a hank of Cascade Eco Wool, one of my favorites, and nearly dropped it. $7.50 a skein. For 478 yards! The normal selling price is $15, and it’s a bargain at that price, since it’s soft, sturdy, fairly heavy weight (though I’d call it aran, not chunky as the label suggests) and I haven’t run into a single knot so far in any of the 3 478-yard skeins of it I’ve wound.

I checked a few skeins, just to be sure the price gun hadn’t misfired. They all said $7.50. So I picked up a couple of skeins in white and bought them. (I should have bought more–but I was trying to restrain myself, thinking I could always come back and get more.) I remarked on what a great price it was at the register, and to my surprise they didn’t look at it and immediately say “Oh, this is a mistake!” They just smiled and said “Yes, isn’t it great!”

But then, wouldn’t you know it, it was too good to be true. Someone else on Ravelry went in the next day and bought some and found them repricing all the skeins. They had made a mistake. They sold her the skeins she’d picked out at the cheaper price anyway, so I don’t feel too bad about holding onto the ones I bought, but alas–the permanent price of $7.50 for local Eco Wool was not to be. (Deep sigh…) At least the store has a different selection from Yarns Unlimited, and they seem to be very reasonably priced, so I look forward to going back to browse when I’m less sick and have more time. Oh, and they were giving away reusable fabric shopping bags rather than disposable plastic. I don’t know if that’s a permanent thing or not, but I appreciated it.

Since I didn’t have things like an appetite or mobility in the outside world to distract me, I also spent the weekend working on some creative projects. I got my Ravelry PDF pattern downloads working, sorta. You can download from each individual pattern page, but for some reason my store keeps saying “no PDF uploaded” when I know that’s untrue. I’ll give it a few days and try again. It’s exciting seeing people download my work–not like there’s any huge number of them, but still. Cool! I’ll add Ravelry download links to the individual pattern pages. The PDFs should print out nicely, no sidebar or comments or other browsery nonsense, and I’ve deleted most pictures from the pattern pages to make a nice copy to work from.

I also got back to work on rewriting a shawl pattern I’ve been working on for months. I think I finally have it right now–it’s a good thing I sat on it for a while, because some glaring charting errors jumped out at me when I picked it up again and started working. It’s kind of amazing how much work lies in the divide between your own scribbled notes and a product that can be used and understood by other people.

I slaved away, too, at a pattern for a little sock yarn baby sweater and a test-knit of the smallest size, only to run into various annoying pitfalls, first numerous problems having to do with getting the length right, since the front border repeats are rather long compared to the total length of the sweater, and then, as I was nearing the raglan decreases at the top, running out of sleeve stitches to decrease. AAGH! I have test knitters for the other sizes waiting for me, so I can’t let the frustration stop me, but trying to resize a sweater while your head is fogged up with germs and generic cold medicine is seriously difficult.

Here are some pictures of the prototype of the baby sweater I’m working on. I’m calling it the Botany Baby Sweater (rav link), and hoping it will be a nice sock yarn stashbuster. This version, knit at light speed in Brown Sheep Wildfoote in Mistletoe for a baby that’s due any day now, was subject to numerous terrible math errors and last-minute fudging,  and I was hoping that the new version I was working on over the weekend would be immune to the same problems. Alas, it had its own, different set of problems.

I feel like the usual 8-sts-every-other-round ratio of increase/decrease for raglan shoulders doesn’t really seem to work when it comes to babies, because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, they are apparently very squat, fat creatures. So if you want to go from a reasonable body and sleeves size to a reasonable neck size, and you decrease 8 sts every other round, it seems to me that you will end up with an extremely long and ill-fitting raglan.

Of course, this is all still a theory, since my stupid nearly-finished test knit is sitting on the dining room table looking even squattier than I had planned for, and the baby raglan patterns I’ve seen always seem to follow that same rate of increase/decrease, so it’s possible there just may be some kind of underlying fundamental problem in my calculations. Will report back later. But not tonight–I think tonight I might need to take a break, rest my brain, and work on something relaxing that won’t stand such a high chance of being ripped back after 20 hours of work.

My old friend Detergent Baby is modeling. I really need to find a more photogenic model.

The sweater’s cute, at least, isn’t it? But like I mentioned, it’s annoying trying to get all the leaves to match up with the desired lengths in the different sizes. I’m working up my new sample in Colinette Jitterbug in Velvet Leaf, and if one thing kept me going nonstop on this sweater all weekend, it was the absolutely stunning look of the Jitterbug. I love the color and the softness and the bounce of it.  The body of the sweater is knit in reverse stockinette stitch and the sleeves in stockinette, and I just love the effect of the semi-solid yarn in reverse stockinette. (Plus, it hides the slight unevenness of my reverse stockinette better than the solid Wildfoote.)

The strange thing about the Jitterbug is that, like alexandrite, or maybe like Gwen the two-face in Seinfeld, it seems to look completely different in different types of light. In incandescent light, it seems like sort of an ugly, muddy brown, but in natural sunlight, it takes on a beautiful, rich, dark green color, tinged with gold.
My thought, by the way, with the Eco Wool was to make a Botany sweater sized up for adults, with pockets–but I’m really getting ahead of myself. Maybe once the pattern is in the hands of my test knitters and I’ve successfully finished at least the newborn-sized version.

So also over the weekend, I was horrified and kind of depressed to read this story about Virgin Mobile using random Flickr photos licensed under Creative Commons in their Australian ad campaign without contacting the photographers or the people pictured in the photos for permission. It made me all sad and paranoid to read people’s comments saying that a lot of people thought the 15-year-old girl in the linked story didn’t have a legal leg to stand on because the photographer (her camp counselor) had put up the photo under a Creative Commons attribution license, meaning Virgin Mobile could use it to promote their products without paying a red cent, and (according to some commenters) Australian law doesn’t require a model release for normal, everyday people who are neither celebrities nor professional models. Even if they’re not legally obligated to obtain a release or inform the photographer, it seems like the courteous, ethical thing to do–and it seems like they should have at least paid what they would have for normal stock photos. I mean, they’re Virgin, it’s not like they can’t afford it! I don’t want to watermark my photos, and it annoys me mightily when people disable right-click on their webpages out of fear of other people stealing their content, but sometimes I wonder if they have the right idea. I mean, there really are worse things to worry about, but it sucks to think of a multinational corporation grabbing your photos off Flickr and using them for their billboard ad campaigns without your explicit consent or knowledge. Especially since some of them are considerably more derogatory/defamatory than the “dump your pen friend” one.

Ravelry’s blog feed feature has been acting up (at least for me) and lately I’ve been getting new blog posts dumped into the feed in big chunks every couple of days–so it seems like everything’s quiet, then suddenly I have a huge list of blog posts to wade through. I’ll have to spend some time going back through everything I’ve missed because of the hiccups.